Introduction: Salmon Sushi Earrings
Like sushi? Like earrings? You're in luck.
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Step 1: Ingredients
Here's what you'll need!
Clockwise (more or less), starting from top left:
Varathane: a satin-finish water-based floor sealer that works nicely on cured polymer clay. It sells by the pint at hardware stores, but you can also get it here in smaller bottles: http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/
Kato Liquid Polyclay: Like regular clay, but in translucent liquid form. Cures hard and clear in the oven.
Kato Concentrate Clays (yellow, red): Also like regular clay, but with much higher pigment content. These are too brittle to use normally, but they work well for color tinting and other fun effects. More info at http://www.katopolyclay.com/
Detail brush: because it's the little things.
Sterling silver wire, 20ga (I think): I like to buy this from http://www.monsterslayer.com/. You can use other metals, but sterling is my favorite.
Wire cutters: for cutting wire.
Round nose pliers: for plying noses. I guess.
Tissue blade: Originally used for harvesting tissue from people, or corpses, or...hot dogs? (See for yourself: http://www.braintreesci.com/prodinfo.asp?number=BS-BLADES) They're also great for crafting, and they're sold in more reasonable quantities at crafting stores.
Rice-colored clay: this is my own mixture, a 30:1 mix (by volume) of translucent clay and white clay. I wouldn't recommend eyeballing the amounts, because slight variations in the mixture can result in weird-looking cured results. If you have a pasta machine, measuring is easy: roll out equal thickness sheets of both clay colors, then mark out the proper areas with a ruler (multiples of 30 cm^2 and 1 cm^2, respectively) and cut them out with the tissue blade. One more thing: this mixing ratio is for Premo Sculpey, because that's what I usually use. I'm not sure how it would differ with other brands.
Glass cutting board: Clay doesn't stick to it too much, and the flat surface is nice for precise cutting.
NOT PICTURED (sorry, guys):
Earrings hooks: because, well, we're making earrings. Cheap ones are available here, alongside many other great things: http://www.firemountaingems.com/
Jump rings: little wire rings for attaching the earrings. You can make these yourself if you're ambitious and/or thrifty.
Extra pliers: not strictly necessary, but really useful for opening jump rings.
Bristle brush: for texturing.
An oven: for curing the clay.
Step 2: Mix the Salmon Color
Time to mix the salmon color. Grab some of the rice clay (not all of it) and nibble off some of the yellow and red concentrates. Breaking up the concentrates will make things easier; so will having a pasta machine on hand. Mix the colors until you get a nice clear salmon color. Be careful! The concentrate takes a light hand to use effectively. If you use too much of the concentrate in the beginning (especially the red), you will have a hard time diluting the color back out again. Start with small amounts and work your way up.
Step 3: Get Rolling
Roll out a thick sheet of pink clay and a thin sheet of rice clay. Try to keep them clean.
Step 4: Now Kiss
Here you can get a better idea of the relative thicknesses of the sheets. Try to lay them together slowly from one side, gently pressing out air bubbles as you go.
Step 5: Square Off
Using the tissue blade, square off your edges. They don't have to be perfect. If you have a scrap pile, now's a good time to add to it.
Step 6: Dig In
Time to start building up the salmon. Take off a slice of the slab by pressing straight down into it with the tissue blade. Make sure the slice clings to the blade when you lift it away.
Step 7: Again
Add another slice, just to the side of the first one.
Step 8: And Again and Again
Keep stacking slices until you're out of clay or you've accumulated a few inches. The slant of the whole thing will make it easier to cut later.
Step 9: Go Ahead and Touch It
Lay down your stack of slices and use your fingertips to mush it together into one piece. Try to get all the slices to adhere together and blend realistically without distorting the lines too much.
Step 10: Lift
Carefully pull away from your work surface. If it's stuck, use the tissue blade to slice away whatever you can.
Step 11: Parallelogram
You can cut any shape you want, really. I suppose it depends on your tastes. Again, press straight down with the tissue blade to prevent distortions.
Step 12: Back to the Rice
Grab a blob of the rice clay and dab a bit of liquid clay on the top. This will help the salmon piece adhere during baking.
Step 13: Texturing
Stick a piece of your salmon to the prepared rice blob. It might slide around now, but it will be joined properly later. Use a bristle brush to scratch some lines into the surface of the clay.
Step 14: Hanging Wire
Cut a short length of wire and use your round nose pliers to bend it into a U shape.
Step 15: Careful, Now...
Push the wire loop into the middle of the clay. Align it parallel to the direction you want the earrings to hang. Make sure to leave enough room at the top for a jump ring to move freely. Now you're done with the clay portion! Bake it for 20-30 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Use piece of cardboard (don't worry, it shouldn't burn) or a pan filled with polyester fiberfill (it won't melt) to support your piece. Avoid baking on aluminum foil, which tends to leave shiny, flat spots where it contacts the clay during baking.
Step 16: Hardware
While your piece(s) bake, find a set of ear wires and jump rings. To open a jump ring, grasp it on either side of the opening with a pair of jewelry pliers. Bend the ends in opposite directions. Don't pull them straight away from each other! This makes the jump ring weaker and more difficult to close properly.
Step 17: Finish It
Top off your cute sushi with semi-gloss Varathane (formerly Flecto, now Rustoleum). One or two coats, applied with a soft clean paintbrush, should do it.
Step 18: Finally...
Once your finish dries and you've attached your hardware, you're done! Enjoy <3